Thursday 18th March 2021

Mental Health: A Concern

We live in a developed or developing country in the 21st century. We call ourselves modern and liberal, then let's talk about mental health today. According to an estimation by the World Health Organisation (WHO), mental illness makes about 15% of the world's total disease condition. The data tells that between 1990 to 2017, one in seven people have had a mental illness which ranges from depression, frequent panic attacks, anxiety, schizophrenia, etc. It also suggested that India has one of the largest populations affected by mental illness. As a result, our country has been labelled as the world's 'most depressing country' by WHO. Shocking! Isn't it? Besides this, India also suffers from a shortage of mental health care workers. As per the reports of WHO, the mental health workforce in India per 100,000 population include psychiatrists (0.3), nurses (0.12), psychologists (0.07) and social workers (0.07).

This loss in mental health is due to a lack of awareness and sensitivity towards the issue. This term isn't new to our ears, but many people in India can't accept it. There is a significant stigma around the people who are suffering from issues related to mental health. People suffering from this are often termed lunatics by society. Even after an intense backlash, some people do come out of their shell to talk about this, but then they are showered with statements like, "Are you mad?" or "It's nothing, you're just overthinking." or "It's a thing for rich people." or "Everyone deals with some pressure, you're no special", etc. This is a vicious cycle of shame, suffering and isolation in which the patient gets trapped.

Mental illness isn't limited to an age group; it's not an' adult illness'. As per mental health statistics, 20% of adolescents may experience a mental health problem in any given year. Also, 50% of mental health problems are established by the age of 14, and 10% of children and teenagers (aged 5-16 years) have some clinically diagnosable mental problem. Still, only about 30% of them have had appropriate interventions. Parents should take this issue and signs if visible to their children seriously. This illness is as dangerous as cancer as it will grow over time if not cured and can also result in suicides.

All these issues and lack of importance will result in aggravating the scale of the problems. It needs immediate redressal.

Mental illness or mental health disorders include a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect one's mood, thinking or behaviour. Mental illnesses include depression, schizophrenia, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and addictive behaviours.

Almost everyone experiences mental health concerns from time to time. Still, a mental health concern becomes a mental illness only when the ongoing signs or symptoms affect one's ability to function.

Mental illnesses can make you feel miserable and cause problems in your daily mundane chores, such as at school, work, or relationships. Mostly, symptoms can be managed with some medications and psychotherapy.


Mental illness signs and symptoms are subjective, depending on the disorder, circumstances, or some other factors. These symptoms can affect one's emotions, thoughts and behaviours.

Examples of these signs and symptoms include:

· Feeling sad or down.

· Confusing thoughts or reduced ability to concentrate.

· Increased fears, worries, or feelings of guilt.

· Mood swings.

· Withdrawal from friends and closed ones.

· Low energy, tiredness, or insomnia.

· Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations.

· Inability to cope with daily routines.

· Trouble understanding situations or relating to people.

· Problems with alcohol or drug use.

· Changes in eating habits.

· Sex drive changes.

· Rise in anger.

· Suicidal thoughts.

Sometimes, mental health illness symptoms can also appear as physical problems, such as stomach pain, headaches, back pain, or other unexplained body aches or pains. When should one see a doctor? If you experience any or some of these mental illness symptoms, see a mental health professional whenever possible. Mental illnesses don't improve there, and if untreated, they may worsen over time.

If you have suicidal thoughts...

Suicidal thoughts often accompany some mental illnesses. If you find yourself having such thoughts, try to get help right away; you matter!

· Call your local emergency number immediately.

· Contact your mental health specialist.

· Call a suicide hotline number.

· Reach out to a close friend, family member or a loved one.

· Reach someone in your faith community.

These thoughts don't go away on their own — it takes effort.

Helping a loved one

Always look out for signs, and imagine a world where people cared about each other as much as you care about your friend to read an article to help them. These small efforts and ways are what make this world a wonderful place to live in. Don't forget to talk to them, seek professional help if necessary, get them a pet, encourage and support them, celebrate small successes but also take care of your mental and physical well being.

If you think your loved one has done self-harm or is considering doing so, take the person to the hospital or get help.

Causes and factors:

Mental illnesses, in general, are caused by a variety of genetic or even environmental factors:

· Mental illnesses are more common in people whose blood relatives also have experienced some mental illnesses. Certain genes have a high risk of developing a mental illness, and your life situations may trigger it.

· Stressful life situations, such as financial problems, study or expectations stress or a loved one's death.

· Any chronic medical condition, such as cancer or diabetes.

· Some severe injury (traumatic brain injury) leading to brain damage, such as a violent blow to the head.

· Traumatic experiences, such as military combat, assault or childhood trauma.

· Consumption of alcohol or recreational drugs.

· A history of abuse or neglect.

· Lack of friends or healthy relationships.

· History of mental illnesses.

Mental illness is common. About one in five adults has experienced mental illnesses in any given year. Mental illness can occur at any age, from childhood through adult years, but most cases begin earlier in life.

The effects of a mental illness may be temporary or even long-lasting. You can have more than one mental health disorder at the same time also. For instance, one may have depression and a substance use disorder simultaneously.


Untreated mental illness can cause severe emotional, physical and behavioural problems. Complications sometimes linked to mental illness include:

· Unhappiness and lack of enjoyment in life.

· Conflicts among family members.

· Difficulties in maintaining a relationship.

· Social isolation.

· Addiction problems with tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.

· Problems related to work or school.

· Financial problems.

· Self-harm or harm to others like suicide or homicide.

· Weakened immune system.

· Heart disease and other medical conditions.


There's no one way to prevent mental illnesses. However, if you or your loved one has a mental illness, taking steps to control stress, increasing one's resilience, and boosting low self-esteem may help keep your symptoms under control.

You can follow the following steps:

· Pay attention to warning signs. Talk to your therapist and try to learn what might trigger your symptoms. Make a resilence plan so as to know what to do if symptoms return. Contact your doctor or therapist regularly. Try to involve your close ones to watch for warning signs in your behaviour.

· Get routine medical care. Don't neglect checkups or visits to your therapist, especially if you aren't feeling well. These visits may seem overwhelming at the moment but will help you in the long run.

· Get help when you need it. Mental health conditions can worsen if you wait until symptoms get worse.

· Take good care of yourself. Regular sleep cycle, healthy eating and regular physical activity can help. Talk to your primary care provider if you have trouble sleeping or if you have questions about diet and physical activity.

People should become sensitive to this issue and also towards the people dealing with it. If one cannot understand it, then he/she should not even criticise it. People who deal with mental illness are ordinary, and they just crave understanding from the people that are close to them, especially parents. Mental illness is hard. People don't see it; that's why they don't get it. Skin rash? Here's the cream. Stomach infection? Here's the pill. Anxiety? It's all in your head. Depression? It's just a phase. Doctor? You should go. Therapist? Not necessary. People should accept that this isn't a shame but a concern.